The Negro League All-Time Latino Baseball Team

By Raúl Ramos (Twitter: @RamosRauli)

February marks the observance and celebration of the contributions and achievements African Americans have done in the United States.  Contributions in plenty of areas such as in the Arts, Science, and Sports. 

In Sports, we often remembered greats that played ball during a difficult era when black players were outcast by MLB just because of the color of their skin. Contributions of legends like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Martin Dihigo have been well documented; but there was another group of black players, players from Latin America, players that would mostly communicate in Spanish that also need to be remembered in the Negro Leagues.

 I took the opportunity to provide my selections on a All-Time Hispanic Negro League All-Star Team in order to bring some light and recognition to a group wonderful players that have been forgotten in time by fans and historians.

 My three outfielders are:

Cristóbal Torriente

Cristobal Torriente (Cuban) – Enriched into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. It was a powerful left-handed slugger, called the Black Babe Ruth.  Played for sixteen seasons in the Negro Leagues and was a member of the famous Chicago American Giants.

Tetelo Vargas

Juan “Tetelo” Vargas (Dominican) – Nicknamed the Dominican deer for his outstanding speed, was considered one of the fastest players in sepia baseball.  Tetelo was the best Dominican ballplayer by far from his era. He played in the Negro Leagues for ten seasons and was a member of the NY Cubans.

Pancho Coimbre

Pancho Coimbre (Puerto Rican) – Considered the best pure hitter from Puerto Rico before Roberto Clemente. Pancho played for the NY Cubans in the early 40s. Probably the most difficult hitter to ever struck out. Martin Dihigo and Satchel Paige considered Coimbre, the most difficult hitter they ever faced.

The infield:

My infield is composed of Martin Dihigo(HOF)  at first base, Emilio “Millito” Navarro on second base, Pelayo Chacon at shortstop, Luis “Canena” Marquez at third base and Jose Maria Fernandez behind the plate.

Martin Dihigo

Martin Dihigo (Cuban) – His nickname was «El Maestro”. He was considered the most complete ballplayer of his era.  A player – manager, who was a phenomenal pitcher that mastered and played all positions but catcher.   Coimbre said Dihigo was the best player he ever saw.  He is exalted the numerous Hall of Fames, including Mexico, Cuba, and Cooperstown.

Millito Navarro

Emilio “Millito” Navarro (Puerto Rican) – Played for the Cuban Stars in 1928 and 1929.  Millito played ball in the Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan leagues.  Later in life, he became a fan favorite and a goodwill ambassador for the Negro Leagues and Caribbean Baseball.  He passed at the young age of 105.

Pelayo Chacon

Pelayo Chacón (Cuban) – He was a well know player and respected manager.  He was known as «the Curtain» because of his great defense. Played for sixteen seasons in the United States, playing for Hilldale and the Cuban Stars.  He had an illustrious career in Venezuelan baseball.

Luis Canena Marquez

Luis “Canena” Márquez (Puerto Rican) – Won the 1947 batting title as a member of the Homestead Grays.  Became the first black player to sign with the New York Yankees organization.  Was the third Puerto Rican to play in the Major Leagues with the Boston Braves.

José Maria Fernández

José Maria Fernández (Cuban)) – He was a player and manager for the New York Cubans, under Alex Pompez.  Managed and guided the Cubans to the Negro League World Series Championship in 1947.  Played for 24 seasons in the United States.

The Pitchers:

The hurlers selected are José de la Caridad Méndez (HOF) and Luis “Lefty” Tiant.

Jose Mendez

José Méndez (Cuban) – Known as the Black Diamond, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.  Méndez was the first black Cuban to be recognized as a star in the United States.  Adolfo Luque said in many occasions that Méndez was a superior pitcher than him

Luis “Lefty” Tiant

Luis “Lefty” Tiant (Cuban) – Lefty was a formidable left-handed pitcher. Owner of one the best moves towards first base of his era.  He played sepia ball in the United States for 13 seasons, the majority of them with the New York Cubans.

Tom Van Hyning assited in this article.

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